Several bills aimed at legalizing euthanasia should arrive before parliamentarians in the coming weeks. The Catholic Church reacted by making known its strong opposition and promises to make its voice heard in the debate.
In Argentina, euthanasia has been legal since 2012, but falls within a relatively restricted framework: it provides that the medical profession can stop hydrating and feeding the patient at the end of life who requests it, without fear of being prosecuted by the courts.
Provisions – already seriously contrary to natural law – deemed insufficient by the ruling coalition, in particular by the Frente de Todos (Front for all) party of Peronist President Alberto Fernandez.
Thus, in 2021 and 2022, no less than four projects were tabled by progressive MPs seeking to achieve a more or less absolute legalization of euthanasia based on the model of what is already being practiced in Europe and Canada.
The texts which are strongly opposed by the Conference of Bishops of Argentina (CEA) which denounces a “culture of death” and a “culture of waste,” taking up terms often used by the Argentine pope.
“Although a society cannot eliminate suffering, it must always commit itself with all its energies to the lives of those who suffer. … Even in cases of diseases that have no cure, all patients must be cared for and accompanied so that their lives are respected until natural death,” the Argentine episcopate said in a statement released on August 18, 2022.
For his part, Frente de Todos confirmed that his goal remains to put the question of euthanasia on the parliamentary agenda as soon as possible, knowing that the process to achieve the adoption of a law will be long and strewn with pitfalls: but the adoption of the law legalizing abortion gave them hope for future success.
The Church of Argentina does not intend to remain silent in the debate: “Taking a life is not a means of alleviating suffering. … We are not the masters of life,” recalls the press release from the ECA, which regrets that the emphasis is not placed on palliative care, probably because of an ideological bias.
“It is essential to accompany the anguish of those who suffer, their physical and spiritual pain. The domain of medicine is to heal, but also to relieve and humanize the process that leads to death,” the Argentine prelates insist.
And the episcopal conference issued a thinly veiled warning to the political class: “Out of respect for life which comes to us from God and of which we are not the masters, out of consideration for so many people who are committed to taking care of life as health personnel, and out of respect for the absent who have died in recent years, we ask God that in our beloved homeland no place be given to laws that leave those who suffer most on the side of the road and excludes them.”
Without a doubt, the struggle for the right to life in Argentina promises many battles in the weeks and months to come.